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Ask Dr.Fiona Your Own Question
Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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What is wrong with my dog? He is shaking when he gets up

Customer Question

My dog is acting strange. He is lethargic, shaking a little when you get him up, back legs twitching, and he makes grunting noises when he breathes and moves really slow.

Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

Welcome to Just Answer! I would like to help you and your dog with this question, but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.
When did this start?
Any vomiting or diarrhea?
When did he last urinate (how many hours ago) and did it seem normal?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.


He started acting weird right before I went to bed last night. Making a sort of grunting noise when I was holding him. No vomiting or diarrhea. I let him out this morning and he seemed to urinate ok. He is real stiff and his stomach seems hard???

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

What kind of food does he usually eat?
What has he eaten in the last 3 days or so?
Is it unusual for him to refuse food, or is he kind of picky?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

He eats Natures Recipe. He is never picky. It feels like he is just a little warm and when I touch him it is like his skin is twitching? He will get up when I call him several times reluctenly and gives me one little tail wag but not his usual excited self.

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

Has he had any table scraps or gotten into the garbage in the last few days?
Could he have snacked something while outside?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

My husband gave him a little piece of well done hamburger he was eating. He hasn't gotten into the garbage and I am pretty sure he didn't get into anything outside. My husband says he was acting normal when he gave him the hamburger which was about 5-5:30 yesterday.

He got him to drink some milk. Ohh and I have another dog a toy poodle female and she is fine. He is just sitting stiff like staring at me :(

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

Hi again,
Thanks for the further information you have given me!
There are a lot of different possibilities as to what may be going on with your dog. The ones that I would be considering if he came to see me are:
1. One of the things that I think of first in a dog is that he may have a Gastrointestinal Foreign Body.
Dogs eat the strangest things - plastic bags, children's toys, bones, bits of towel, socks, rocks and other things. Often, these foreign bodies pass through the intestinal tract, but sometimes they do not. They may get caught in the stomach or the small intestines.
The symptoms of a GI foreign body are generally vomiting, loss of appetite, depression and dehydration. If your dog consumed an object that is caught in the stomach or small intestines, it might explain the symptoms that you are seeing. This would be particulary true if the object were something like a ball that could bob over pylorus (outflow from the stomach) and then move away again. Thus, water could pass through but not food.
In the case of an obstruction, surgery is often needed to remove the foreign object. I will include further information about GI foreign bodies:
If I examined your little guy and was concerned about a foreign body, I would probably recommend x-rays to see if a foreign object was visible. A rock would show up very well on x-rays. A plastic bag would not show up on x-rays. It does, however, show up very well if the dog is given some barium (a type of milkshake like drink) by mouth. Then a determination can be made about how best to get this out of the dog, or whether it might move through on its own.
I don't feel this is very likely as he is not the type of dog who I would expect to eat a foreign body (I would be more suspicious if he were a Lab!) and because he is not vomiting.
2. It is possible your dog simply has gastroenteritis from eating something he shouldn't have. Table scraps or twigs and leaves could be the culprit! Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines and can be caused by a large number of things, including sudden dietary changes.
Again, this seems less likely because it would not cause him to show signs of abdominal pain.
3. A bacterial infection:
Dogs can be affected by overgrowths of bacteria in the intestines. In an adult dog these might not be more than a nuisance. The 3 most common are Campylobacter, Salmonella and E.Coli. Here is a link with more information:
This is also low on the list because he has no vomiting or diarrhea.
4. Pancreatitis:
This is an inflammation of the pancreas, often triggered by a high fat meal. With "acute pancreatitis" dogs are very sick, with severe vomiting, painful belly and fever.
**********THIS IS WHAT I FEEL IS MOST LIKELY IN YOUR DOG!!!***************
The symptoms you have described fit perfectly with this - especially if he vomits up that milk. It sounds like he does indeed have a painful belly and a fever. I strongly suspect that the hamburger could have triggered this. In a sensitive dog, even a small amount of fat can trigger this, and many hamburgers have 32g of fat per serving which is a HUGE amount of fat. I know he ate only a little, but as little as a teaspoon (1g) of fat could trigger this!
Pancreatitis is a serious medical problem and is diagnosed by having bloodwork done and possibly x-rays. Dogs with pancreatitis may need to go on a course of antibiotics to treat the chronic pancreatitis and may need a prescription food to "put out the fire" of this chronic problem.
Typically the diet is ultra-low fat. At first dogs may not want to eat it because of feeling nauseated and it does not tempt her. But with medications they soon feel *much* better and keep feeling well if they stay on an appropriate food.
For more information:
There are a number of possibilities for what may be going on. Your vet would need to do a physical exam and possibly some diagnostic tests to figure out what the underlying problem is. I would start with a faecal sample, blood test and abdominal x-rays. It sounds like it is time to find out what is going on!
Given how painful your dog is today, I would strongly recommend that you take him in TODAY to see your vet. There may be something going on that needs immediate attention, and I don't like the fact that he is feeling so much worse today. I know that it is a holiday there today, but I am very worried about your little dog.
If he is feeling unwell at the moment, there are some things you can do at home until you can get him in to the vet:
1. WITH-HOLD FOOD for 12 hours since he has shown signs of abdominal pain today. This gives the intestines a chance to rest and heal.
2. When he is fasting, he can have lots of CLEAR fluids (no milk). So, water is fine, but also he can have pedialyte, Gatorade, apple juice diluted 50:50 with water, or chicken or beef broth diluted 50:50 with water. Give the fluids in SMALL AMOUNTS frequently. For a dog this size that means about 1/4 cup every half hour.
In a toy breed like this, it is very important to keep calories going into him as small dogs are prone to low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia). Giving pedialyte or Gatorade, etc will help to prevent this.
Here is more about it:
3. After 12 hours, you can start your dog back on a bland diet. For patients that I see, I recommend a mixture of 75% cooked white rice, and 25% LOW FAT protein. For the protein you could use extra lean ground beef, boiled with the fat scooped off, or chicken breast boiled with fat scooped off or even scrambled egg cooked without fat in the microwave. Feed small frequent meals. For a dog this size, I would suggest 2 or 3 tablespoons every 3 to 4 hours.
4. After 1-2 days on the rice mix, you would gradually change your dog back to the normal dog food. So, on day 3, give the rice mixture, but bigger meals, spaced further apart. On day 4, mix a little tiny bit of the normal food in there, and decrease the frequency so it is down to 3 meals or so. And so on.
5. Keep your dog as quiet as possible - just out to relieve himself and back in.
If your MaltiPoo starts to vomit, develops blood in the stool, is lethargic or shows increased signs of abdominal pain, please contact a veterinarian today. Good luck with him!

Dr.Fiona and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Thanks so much for you help. I was wondering if it was Lyme Disease or something.

Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

Well, I can't say for sure that it isn't, but his symptoms sound more like pancreatitis to me! Lyme disease usually causes lethargy and depression, with lying around not wanting to move. Your little guy sounds like he is in pain!
Good luck with him!